This Parmesan-crusted chicken is a surprisingly satisfying weeknight supper. Just roll chicken cutlets in grated Parmesan. It may not win you any points with your stodgy, fine-china-and-silver-every-night-of-the-week mother-in-law. But we find it to be a superlative solution when it’s 10 minutes past when the kids started bellyaching that they’re hungry for dinner and you finally yank open the refrigerator and there seems to be nothing in there. Take a glance at this recipe and then look at the fridge again. This simple chicken solution can be complemented by summery tomatoes, indecent amounts of olive oil, and, if you have them in the fridge, some floppy salad greens or fresh basil.–David Leite
How to make this Parmesan-crusted chicken recipe even easier
We know you’re in a hurry. A few tricks to keep things as close to perfect and easy as possible in the kitchen:
Pound the chicken to an even thickness
First, don’t ignore the instructions in the chicken recipe below to pound the chicken breasts to an even thinness. It may take a few more moments that you swear you don’t have, yet it ensures the chicken cooks quickly and evenly and remains juicy, which saves you time in the long run when you don’t have to run and grab takeout because no one will eat your overcooked chicken
Finely grate the Parmesan
Another thing to be careful of is to grate the Parmesan finely—use those really tiny holes on the grater–as tiny shreds of cheese have a stick-to-itiveness that larger pieces just can’t muster, which means the cheese stays put on the chicken, not the pan.
Bake the Parmesan-crusted chicken or sear it
Last, if you’d rather not heat up the kitchen in the middle of a sweltering summer, rather than bake the chicken in the oven you can sear it in a well-seasoned cast-iron or nonstick skillet that’s just barely slicked with olive oil. All you need is a thin metal spatula (trust us on this) and impeccable timing so as to flip the cutlet the moment the cheese crust goes from gooey and still sticking to the skillet to crisp and ready to release.
- 2 egg whites or 1 whole egg
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thinness (or substitute chicken tenders)
- 2 cups very finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Rocket (arugula) or basil leaves or summer lettuces, (optional)
- 2 summer tomatoes, cut into slices or wedges (optional)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper.
- Place the egg whites or whole egg in a shallow dish and beat lightly. Place the Parmesan on a plate and, if you like pepper, add some to the Parmesan and toss to coat. Dip the chicken breasts first into the egg, allowing any excess to drip off, then drop it in the Parmesan and turn it to coat, pressing the Parmesan onto the chicken to make it stick. Place the Parmesan-crusted chicken on the parchment.
- Bake until the chicken is golden and cooked through, 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the thickness. Immediately slide onto plates. Originally published July 06, 2010.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: I’m not a chicken breast eater—or cook. I can’t remember the last time I bought a boneless, skinless chicken breast. But when, on a weekday morning, I knew I’d be working late that night and this recipe landed in my e-mail inbox, it did seem like the perfect answer to the “What on earth will I make for dinner?” question since I had everything on hand except for the chicken.
The recipe worked quite well as written, with the one minor detail that my chicken breasts weren’t quite done after 15 minutes in the oven—18 minutes did the trick—likely because of the size. The final dish was a chicken breast that was perfectly cooked and moist but rather plain.
The recipe suggests an arugula and tomato salad to go with it, and it was a good match. It works, and it’s very, very easy to make. Perhaps one of the easiest things that I’ve made in more than 25 years of cooking. And that’s the key. I may not be a big fan of a simple chicken breast, but my health-conscious, non-cooking husband is. When we came to the all-important question, “would you make this again?” his answer was that he would make it himself, because it was better than any chicken breast he had cooked in the past, and it was really easy. So there you have it. A good, foolproof way to get a nice, healthy dinner on the table.
This was a simple dish that was surprisingly flavourful and doesn’t use many ingredients so it’s the type of thing that you can make when there’s “nothing” for dinner. I didn’t need all the Parmesan (only used half the recipe amount) and I finished the chicken under the broiler to get a little more crispiness.
It was a bit hard to get the Parmesan to stick to the chicken and I wonder if it might be worthwhile sticking Parmesan to the chicken, then dipping in egg then dipping in the cheese again? I finished the chicken under broiler for 5 minutes to get the coating crispy.
I made this with the asparagus and pecorino with lemon vinaigrette and they complimented each other very nicely. The chicken wasn’t brown by the time it was cooked, so I put it under the broiler to brown it up like in the photograph.
We served the chicken on a bed of arugula/baby spinach which had been tossed in 2 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon vinaigrette made with the asparagus recipe. I roasted the chicken and asparagus in the oven. As well, I had no trouble getting the cheese to stick to the chicken.
Well, if you like people to completely clean their plates when they eat the food you cook then you must make this dish! I love recipes that are technically simple but beyond delicious and this recipe is both. If you keep chicken breast cutlets in the freezer you can have this on the table in no time. I served this with asparagus and it was an easy weeknight meal, but would be impressive (and easy enough) to serve for a dinner party.
The Parmesan didn’t brown as much as I expected it to, but no matter, the flavor it provides is fantastic. I added quite a bit of pepper after the chicken was coated and on the baking sheet rather than in the Parmesan so I could control the amount better. I used a whole egg, rather than the two whites, and the cheese had no problem sticking to the chicken. Also, I didn’t add all of the cheese to the plate during the coating process because it seemed like a lot and I didn’t want to waste it. I put about half on the plate to start with and added a bit more when needed. Still, I ended up using only about five of the seven ounces called for.
This yummy chicken dish is very similar to my Parmesan-panko crusted chicken, so I tested this recipe using the pan-frying method, using packaged thin-sliced chicken cutlets. You can’t go wrong with so few ingredients, and the process is super quick.
After dipping the cutlets into the beaten egg, I tossed them into the freshly grated Parmesan to coat. I did add freshly ground pepper to the Parmesan. The cheese clung to the chicken with no problems. I used about two tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet as it heated up. I pan fried the cutlets three minutes per side until they were nicely golden brown and the chicken was cooked through. I took care in flipping the cutlets to avoid losing any of the Parmesan crust coating.
While the cutlets were resting, I made a salad of baby arugula, grape tomato halves, thin sliced red onions, Kalamata olives, fresh basil, and tossed it with a freshly made lemon vinaigrette. I served the cutlets over the arugula salad with warm French rolls. A quick and very tasty dinner! The cutlets had the subtle flavor of Parmesan, but didn’t have the crispy coating as when you add panko bread crumbs to the Parmesan mixture. We gave this chicken a thumbs-up with or without the crispy crust!
I must have read this recipe through three or four times before deciding to try it—it looked too simple and straightforward. I figured there had to be something missing; after all, I said to myself, there was no way that chicken, Parmesan, pepper, and egg could yield anything particularly noteworthy. I’m glad I tried. The results were much better than anticipated and, so much so that, with a few minor tweaks, I may make this part of the regular weeknight dinner rotation. The chicken was moist and tender, and the Parmesan coating, while beyond easy to throw together, gave it a great flavor. The finished product looked appetizing as well.
I put them under the broiler for 2 minutes to get the coating golden brown as shown. I also found that the Parmesan and pepper coating is flavorful enough (assuming you use really good Parmesan) that you don’t need a robust side dish. I’ll try the recipe’s recommendation of tomatoes and arugula when tomatoes are back in season, but I found a lightly seasoned side of green beans was fine.
This is a simple recipe that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner. Start to finish was only 30 minutes, which included time for the oven to preheat. While the chicken was cooking, I put together a small salad that consisted of about a cup of greens, some sliced tomatoes, and fresh mushrooms.
I pounded the chicken breasts to about an even 1/2 inch thickness. There was some difficulty in getting the Parmesan pepper mix to stick to the chicken. I sort of patted it into place and tossed a little more on top after I put it in the pan. That resulted in a thick enough crust. I used a whole large egg.
I baked the chicken in a 9 x 13 pan. According to my poultry thermometer it was closer to 20 minutes before the chicken reached the desired temperature. By then, the Parmesan had formed a proper crust.